April 17, 2013 -- Labor Notes -- A new video shows Hong Kong dock workers walking off the job March 29 and describing apalling working conditions at the world’s third-busiest port, where their dramatic strike has brought transport to a virtual halt.
Their energy is palpable. “It’s like—the things we’ve suppressed for 10, 20 years, it’s all blowing up now”, one worker says (at 3:59 in video above). He points to a co-worker seriously. “Look at his face. He’s done 24. That’s what a 24 looks like.” Then he cracks a smile. “Actually, you know, he used to be pretty [bleep] good-looking—at least if you shave that beard!”
The workers are appealing for protest letters to be send to support their strike. Please visit Dock workers defy Hong Kong's richest person, seek solidarity, attract huge support for sample letters and more background the struggle.
The video was produced by students from Left 21, a left organisation in Hong Kong. Richard Chen, who translated it, writes:
On March 29th, 2013, about 200 dockworkers in Hong Kong went on strike at the Kwai Tsing Container Terminal.
The strike, which has since expanded to about 500 dockers and crane operators, is one of the most significant labor actions in Hong Kong's recent history because this is the first time that a strike has targeted Li Ka Shing. With an estimated net worth of US$31 billion, Li is the eighth-richest man in the world. He has a monopoly stake in many industries in Hong Kong and China, dictates much of Hong Kong's politics and economic policy, and epitomizes Hong Kong's rampant social inequality and the "get rich quick" capitalist ethos of the 1980s. The dockworkers have garnered massive support from Hong Kong citizens, with the strikers raising more than US$500,000 for their strike fund, much of it collected from citizens at street corners.
As of April 17, the strike is in its third week, with management refusing to accede to the docker's demands for wage increases and improvements in their living conditions. You can hear them speak for themselves about their work conditions in this video, which was taken from the first day of the strike.